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Obese Nurses Risk Their Patient's Well-Being

Student Assist   (1,897 Views 15 Comments)
by Kandikay Kandikay (New Member) New Member

Kandikay has 1 years experience .

153 Visitors; 1 Post

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Great, now that I've got your attention, I have a serious inquisition and would like to preface it by stating that I am hoping this will not turn into the typical "obese nurse doesn't mean bad nurse" argument.

I am a RN student writing a argumentative paper. We were challenged to write two papers. They are on the same topic and have to argue each side of the debate. After losing 150lbs , I decided to tackle the obese nurse topic. I have already constructed the paper that argues why obese nurses shouldn't be treated any different than any other nurse, and now I am writing the paper that goes against it.

My question to you all is this: in your professional experience, have you ever come across an obese nurse who wasn't physically able to perform his/her duties because of their size? If so, what were they? I assume one may have issues performing CPR or responding to a code, but since I am only a student at the moment I would prefer to hear actual stories vs making assumptions. While I have attempted to do research on this, all I can seem to find is articles excusing obesity in the healthcare profession.

And for the love of all that is holy- this is not about whether an obese nurse should be taken seriously or looked down upon for their appearance. I am only interested in hearing about physical restrictions. I know this is a hot topic for some, but I am simply trying to obtain actual information and not looking to argue any other aspect of it

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1,163 Likes; 7 Followers; 21,367 Visitors; 2,704 Posts

I wonder if the best way to write your paper would be by discussing and applying any difficulties you can speak to from personal experience. Were there difficulties or restrictions you experienced at your former weight? If so, I think even as a student you can reasonably try to apply them to what you are learning about nursing. If anyone shares personal experiences you could use those, too, if they support your argument.

This may be a topic that wouldn't wisely be argued from the perspective of what non-affected individuals have come across or believe about another person's physical abilities.

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10,504 Visitors; 949 Posts

You also need to clearly identify what your definition of obese is -- are you using a strict BMI definition of anyone >30? A 50 year old 6'5'' man who weighs 260 pounds, while having a BMI of 30.8 and thus clinically identified as obese, may have no issues performing CPR, making patient transfers, staying on his feet 12-13 hours at a time, etc.. While a 30 year old 700 pound nurse may have severely limited physical activity.

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JBMmom has 6 years experience and works as a Nurse.

38 Likes; 1 Follower; 11,170 Visitors; 636 Posts

Nice way to get views with your title- ha,ha. Bet some clicked on it prepared for a fight. First, congratulations to you for the changes you made to improve your own health. I have managed to lose some weight myself, although not quite as much, and I know how hard that can be. As far as arguing against obese nurses being fit for work responsibilities, I think it all depends on the person. I've met a few obese nurses that add to the stereotype of fat and lazy, and I know some skinny nurses that are even lazier. I think that some can and do perform all aspects of the job because they've figured out how to work around potential physical limitations, but others cannot. I know that when I was a bit heavier, everything was just more tiring, getting up the stairs to respond to a code, obviously doing CPR, but even smaller things like holding a patient to help with care- if you're not in good physical shape yourself, almost anything can become difficult and tiring. And I admit that after having a cousin who was a 400 lb cardiologist I decided that for myself, if I'm going to provide patient education on healthy lifestyle choices, I at least owed it to myself to be modeling at least some of those choices in my own life. Sorry if it's not what you were looking for, good luck with your paper.

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Kitiger has 40 years experience as a RN and works as a private duty nurse.

94 Likes; 1 Follower; 18,209 Visitors; 836 Posts

I once worked with a nurse's aide in a nursing home who was so obese that she had to turn sideways to walk through the narrow bathroom doors.

She was an efficient worker, but she did get out of breath quickly! What I remember the most is that she was well-loved by all.

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nursej22 has 30 years experience as a MSN, RN and works as a royal pain in the tuchus.

81 Likes; 1 Follower; 33,699 Visitors; 1,231 Posts

I have worked with obese nurses who needed knee replacements at fairly young ages (in their 50s).

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248 Likes; 1 Follower; 13,043 Visitors; 1,364 Posts

This is a troll post for sure.

No way is this a real school assignment.

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martymoose works as a rn.

4 Likes; 20,750 Visitors; 1,849 Posts

I'm a fatty(oh,of size) and give good CPR cause I can back it up with my weight

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128 Likes; 1 Follower; 31,465 Visitors; 1,719 Posts

You are asking a good question. I think it is one thing to be overweight/obese and be able to perform one's nursing duties safely (for the patient and the nurse), but what if the nurse/health care worker is unable to safely perform their duties due to being overweight/obese? I haven't seen this topic discussed before.

I admit that I have wondered about patient and nurse safety when I have seen very obese nurses go into very small patient rooms where there is barely enough room for the patient's bed, IV pole, IV pump/s, tray/table, and chair (often utilized by a family member). I assumed that management's position is that until/unless a negative patient outcome occurs that can clearly be related to the nurse's overweight/obesity compromising patient care, that this situation is considered acceptable in spite of the hazards, probably so as not to be considered discriminatory towards the obese nurse.

Edited by Susie2310

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Here.I.Stand has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a RN.

120 Likes; 1 Follower; 41,565 Visitors; 4,773 Posts

I have worked with obese nurses who needed knee replacements at fairly young ages (in their 50s).

I know marathoners who have needed them in their 40s. ;)

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3,526 Visitors; 217 Posts

You got my attention with the title and I wanted to applaud you on your personal effort. I think that this is a topic that could only be addressed by someone that has been there. If I attempted this same paper, I would not have the same effect as you and I would most likely seem judgmental. I feel like you have a good opportunity to present an educational paper that is nearly always controversial.

For lack of others examples, I agree that maybe you could apply your personal experience to the situation. Although being obese is a clinical definition, there are many facets to that definition. I am close to being obese and I'm a 5'0" size 4 in most cases. My mother however is 5'2" and outweighs me by nearly 100lbs - she is not muscular. She has had 2 hip replacements and 2 knee replacements. She can swim all day long (I cannot), but she gets out of breath easily doing any other aerobic activity. She could not perform CPR for 15 seconds, let alone multiple minutes. She also couldn't climb onto a gurney with any sort of help.

Since you need to argue why nurses shouldn't be obese can you tackle it from a health perspective - from the lead by example point? If not, can you use specific personal limitations and apply them to a nursing situation?

What I have rolling around in my brain is Firemen. In order to become a fireman you have to do all the things - you have to pass the physical test. If you physically can't carry/drag the human dummy out of the burning building - you won't become a fireman. I believe this should apply to us as well. There should be a baseline number of things that we should be able to do - and while some things may be covered under the ADA, I don't think that weight should exempt us from those things. Am I making sense? Hopefully I'm helping.

Best of luck to you. Congrats on the weight loss. Much success to you on your new lifestyle.

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